The Minnesota Wild have to make the playoffs.
Realizing that the return of the NHL to the State of Hockey honeymoon had worn off, Wild management went out and spent nearly $200 million on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason and revamped the farm system.
After a slow start, which is to be expected in a year with no training camp or exhibition games, Minnesota has remained in the playoff picture for most of the season. In fact, the team started releasing commercials with footage from the 2003 playoff run to the Western Conference Finals that ends with the team telling fans that there will be new playoff memories this season.
Those memories cannot be formed if Minnesota slips right now.
In order to avoid a late-season collapse, the top line must score, the No. 1 defensive pair has to play big minutes and everyone else, young and old, big or small, has to contribute if the Wild want to position themselves for a playoff run this year.